George Throop
What is the most physically and mentally demanding thing you have ever done?

I have hiked 15-plus miles a day on trails that have made me want to curl up and die in the woods and left me sore for almost a week.  I fought a Tough Man contest that despite being only a three round fight was the only physical activity that ever made me vomit from exhaustion at the end of it.  Oddly enough, I was not compelled to get sick after I competed in a Mud Run with a hangover and only an hour of sleep under my belt.  

All of these experiences were valuable in their own way and left me with a sense of satisfaction that I completed them.  However I hold no illusions that I will ever be in world class, Iron Man-type condition.  Sure I still hold on to a dream of one day hiking the Appalachian Trail but I accept that making the leap from dream and reality is quite unrealistic any time soon.  Even more so, I engage in these activities for myself and for nothing more than my own enjoyment and pride. 

It is with that in mind that I have to say that I cannot even begin to wrap my mind around what George Throop is doing right now.

We met George with our friend Daniel McCord* this weekend.  George and Daniel met through some kind of couchsurfing website where George arranged to stay with Daniel a few days while he walks across the United States.  Yes, you read that right. George Throop is walking across this entire freaking country.  He has spent the last three years walking from Washington state, south through California, and across the United States one step at a time.

Think about that when you open your next bag of potato chips.

The first question you probably have is “Why would somebody do such a thing?” You can read George’s whole story at his website Enjoy The Walk but I suppose the short answer is love. George’s mother died from cancer when she was just 33 years old.  When he reached his own 33rd year, George decided to do something to honor his mother’s memory and inspire others to lead healthier lifestyles.  When some of us feel this way we usually just slap on a pink shirt and compete in the local Race for the Cure event.  Others among us just drop some change in a jar with a sad picture on it on a countertop somewhere and call it good.  George was inspired to do something bigger, not just to honor his mother but out of love and respect for his fellow man.  Thus his Walk Across America began.
Thanks to George for helping me do my job as a roadie for Darby Wilcox.

Chris and I had the pleasure of meeting George on Saturday as we took in a great performance by Darby Wilcox at Paris Mountain’s Music in the Woods.  We were also able to spend some time with him Saturday evening and then see him off on the next leg of his journey Sunday afternoon.  Our time with him with was brief but nothing short of fascinating.

After three years and over 4,000 miles on the road, George is unbelievably humble.  Despite the attention he receives for his journey, he clearly places his entire emphasis on his goal of raising awareness and accepts little recognition for himself.  His stories are not about himself but about the people he has met along the way.  When he meets someone new he seems to assume the position of just being an average-Joe meeting someone extraordinary for the first time.  This gentle turning of the tables is no act and illustrates a genuine interest in every single person he meets on his journey.  After three years he has surely heard every question about his journey imaginable dozens of times at least. However, he answers every question as if it was the first time he had ever heard it and he is excited to finally address the issue.  

The bottom line is his respect and appreciation of his fellow man is indisputable and it speaks to the character of the person willing to walk thousands of miles just to celebrate that fact.

It was an honor meeting George Throop this weekend and we wish him all the luck in the world as he works his way towards Washington D.C. to complete his journey.  If you find yourself between Greenville and D.C. in the coming months, do yourself a favor and find George Throop.  He keeps up with his progress on his blog and we are sure that he would love for you to join him on his walk for a few steps along the way.  We promise that you will find yourself better off for it if you do.

Good luck out there, George.

* We have told you about Daniel McCord before but if you are new here or need a reminder allow me to get you back up to speed… Daniel is a Greenville filmmaker, a good friend, and all around nutjob.  Check out his work on his current film project and his live musical performance series.  And of course, he got a lot of footage of George while he was here and we are looking forward to see what he makes of it all.